Public safety comms will benefit from open standards
By Hamish Duff, President, ARCIA
Monday, 15 July, 2019
June saw members gather in Sydney for Comms Connect and the ARCIA dinner. During Comms Connect, ARCIA again held multi-coupling training courtesy of RFI, which attracted more 30 people from a cross-section of the industry. Since November 2018 that is now more than 100 people who have attended ARCIA multi-coupling training, which is an excellent outcome. We will be conducting more training in Brisbane and we intend to run two courses during Comms Connect Melbourne 2019. Clearly there is demand for industry-led training and ARCIA is now looking for other suitable material and providers to help deliver this to the industry.
So far during 2019 we have also been talking with many businesses who have highlighted the various issues they face with ‘RF workers’. A common question is, how can we tell if a person is trained to the standard we require? What are the suitable standards for installers, technicians, engineers and project managers?
We need to attract more people to the industry and we need to find ways to provide a vocational outcome for both business and employees. In the face of current training options it will fall to industry to take action. My personal view is I would like to see RF workers carrying an industry card that includes a training level. However, we are very long way from that at the moment and we will need a lot of industry support to make it work. To actually be accepted it must be held to a high standard rather than a ‘tick and flick’ we see so often nowadays.
In Sydney we were privileged to welcome Edward Parkinson from FirstNet to Sydney. Mr Parkinson provided an excellent update on FirstNet and the number of US public safety agencies that are using the service. There a number of unique features of the FirstNet partnership with AT&T in the US market and there are many lessons to be learned for other jurisdictions, including Australia. At Comms Connect there were also several presentations from ‘Team Finland’, showing us how they handle critical communications now and how they intend to in the future. There is a growing recognition that the global public safety market will benefit from open standards and access to new technology at a price that is affordable. I would like to add ARCIA’s thank you to all the international guests for taking the time to travel around the world to bring their experience to our market.
With all the discussions around LTE, public safety and POC services, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that LMR around the world is shrinking. This is not the case; many markets are transitioning from analog to digital services and overall the global LMR market is growing. This is a point that ARCIA continues to take to regulators, public safety and industry in general — the demand for critical communications remains and there are several technology options. In recent ACMA discussion papers we are pleased to see there is now recognition of the need for spectrum for LTE that is outside of the public carriers networks, another battle on which ARCIA has had some success.
ARCIA has introduced a revised partnership prospectus for 2019 and a slight adjustment of membership fees. People are often surprised by the range of work that the Association covers; this happens only with the tremendous support we get from our members and partners. A huge amount of this work relies on volunteered time and over the past few years a lot of that load has fallen on the shoulders of our Executive Officer, Ian Miller. It is clear we need to do more and this will require the Association to become more professional, with more part-time secretarial and event services. Our policy is to try to run a relatively balanced budget, while investing in events and other activities the committee believe to be worthwhile. We hope that you support our endeavours to provide better services to members.
During the week of Comms Connect in Sydney, members from the TCCA/ATCCF and ARCIA met and agreed to work more closely on issues concerning the wireless communications industry. For many years, Europe-based TCCA has been involved in standards work and in particular the 3GPP standard. As technology develops the awareness of these standards is increasing, and in a globalised communications world there is a need for ARCIA to not only maximise the benefits from our existing international agreements, but to also become more involved in areas of common standards and requirements. This new agreement will provide many benefits to our members and the Australasian communications industry in general.
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